New Findings Identify Collagen-Influencing Genes that Indicate Keratoconus Risk

According to the National Keratoconus Foundation (NKCF), keratoconus (KC) is estimated to occur in 1 out of every 2,000 persons in the general population. Keratoconus is a disorder that causes thinning of the cornea resulting in a cone-shaped bulge that distorts vision.  Symptoms include visual blurring and distortion along with increased light sensitivity. It can progress to a degree that severely impacts a patient’s quality of life, limiting the ability to perform everyday tasks such as driving, reading, or watching TV. BostonSight® PROSE treatment has helped many keratoconus patients regain visual function and acuity and successfully return to the activities they enjoyed prior to their diagnosis. Although the exact cause of KC is unknown, it is thought that genetics, the environment, and the endocrine system all contribute to the development of KC. 

An online article published in the journal Nature Genetics offers an overview of recent genetic findings on the causation of keratoconus. A large and comprehensive genome-wide association study (GWAS) was performed by international researchers to uncover genetic information related to keratoconus. These findings summarize data from 20,000 people in Australia, Europe, North America, and Asia, which is the largest genetic analysis to date for keratoconus. Researchers discovered a family of genes related to collagen that influence corneal thickness and the risk for developing keratoconus. With the identification of these genes and their relationship to central corneal thickness (CCT), there is hope to develop novel ways to prevent and treat keratoconus.

While anxiously awaiting these new discoveries, you might be interested in looking toward ways to boost collagen through nutrition. Collagen is one of the key components that make up the corneal surface. It is essential also to the makeup of the skin, muscles, blood vessels, and ligaments. As a result, collagen production is vital for overall health, not just your eyes.  Food that are rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin B3, and copper have been linked with promoting healthy collagen. Incorporate these foods along with a balanced diet to optimize health:

Vitamin C:

  • watermelon
  • cooked leafy greens
  • winter squash
  • spinach
  • mango
  • green peppers
  • oranges
  • blueberries

Vitamin B3:

  • tuna
  • peanuts
  • swordfish
  • beets
  • sunflower seeds

Copper:

  • enriched cereals
  • mushrooms
  • peanuts
  • clams
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